Sylvester Mubayi - First Generation Shona Sculpture

Sylvester Mubayi is a first-generation artist, born in 1942 in the Chihota District, East of Harare, Zimbabwe.  He left school when he was 16, and 11 years later, his life was completely transformed when he met Tom Bloomfield, who offered him the chance to try his hand at sculpture at Tengenenge, a community of Sculptors established in 1966.

Later, he moved to Harare where he sought the help of Frank McEwen, the director of the National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe, where he worked for a while at the National Gallery’s Workshop School. Characteristics of Mubayi’s style are rounded, self contained silhouettes with highly polished surfaces.

His faces usually have an innocent simple expression. He has been a major contributor to the reputation of Shona Sculpture and has won the Ernst Oppenheimer Award in South Africa in 1969 and was described by a leading French critic as “the best” at the Musee Rodin exhibition in Paris in 1971.

Sylvester Mubayi was also included as one of the top ten Sculptors in the World by the Guardian in 1991. His work is in the Atlanta Airport as part of “Zimbabwe Sculpture, A Tradition in Stone” display, and is highly collectable. 

Sylvester currently lives and works in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe.